Dr. John Sanderson

B.Eng (Chem), PhD.

Principal Environmental Engineer


John Sanderson holds the position of Principal Environmental Engineer with Earth Systems.  In this role, John provides specialist technical and engineering consulting on biomass and bioenergy technologies and projects, including the emerging field of biochar and conducts greenhouse gas and energy audits to comply with the relevant regulations and standards.

John has extensive experience in biomass combustion and gasification systems, having developed the small 15kWe Tasman gasifier for remote/developing regions, and undertaken recent feasibility studies on a bioenergy power plant utilising burnt wood residues, a transportable biochar machine for woody weeds and an energy recovery process for the beneficial reuse of biosolids from municipal wastewater treatment.  John currently leads the proof of concept design team working on the commercialisation of the mobile biochar machine for a Victorian Government authority.

Education and Affiliations

  • Bachelor of Chemical Engineering (Honours) ‚ÄďUniversityofAdelaide, 1995.
  • Doctor of Philosophy (Chemical Engineering),MonashUniversity, 2003.

Countries of Work Experience

Australia, Canada, United Kingdom, China, New Zealand.

Professional History

  • 2010 – present:¬† Principal Environmental Engineer, Earth Systems
  • 2008‚Äď2009: Senior Environmental Engineer, Earth Systems
  • 2008: Senior Emissions Auditor, Carbon Planet
  • 2006 – present: Director, Gasification Australia
  • 2002-2007: Research Engineer, CSIRO Minerals
  • 1997-2002:¬† Principal Researcher, CRC for Clean Power from Lignite

Fields of Special Competence

Biomass combustion, pyrolysis and gasification, hydrothermal processing, supercritical water gasification, greenhouse gas emissions auditing and calculation methodologies, industrial energy efficiency and waste heat recovery, clean coal technologies, gas solids fluidization and mineral processing technologies.

Representative Experience

John’s recent roles and projects include:

  • Assisted an Australian gold mining corporation to compile energy and emissions data from mine and process plant operations for National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting (NGER) Act reporting.
  • Conducted or assisted in full-scope GHG audits in accordance with WBCSD GHG protocol and ISO 14064-1 for over 10 Australian business operations.
  • Conducted site energy audits and prepared energy audit reports (to AS/NZS 3598), including financial savings estimates, for over 10 sites.
  • Designed a fluidized bed carbon-cooler as part of the activated carbon regeneration process at an Australian gold mine.
  • Undertook a comprehensive review of waste heat recovery prospects for the Australian minerals processing industry.
  • Conducted a feasibility study on a 1MWe Bioenergy power plant utilising fire-damaged timber in the Marysville region.
  • Conducted a feasibility study on the technical and economic merits of a mobile device for producing biochar from woody weed residue associated with catchment management operations. Currently managing proof-of-concept and prototyping for product commercialisation.
  • Developed a calculation methodology (system carbon mass balance) and assumptions to estimate GHG emissions abatement potential of a proposed algal biodiesel process for a commercial client.
  • Undertook a detailed review of energy consumption trends and energy efficiency opportunities for corporate datacentres.
  • Designed, installed and commissioned¬† 15kWe/100kWth wood gasifiers atUniversity of Ulster,Northern Irelandand Knetic Renewables, Gold Coast.
  • Conducted a feasibility study on the gasification of waste-wood from a transfer station to provide heat for a municipal swimming pool in regionalVictoria.
  • Undertook a feasibility study on catalytic hydrothermal processing of biosolids for energy production and volume reduction at an Australian wastewater treatment plant.


Recent News

Report for The International Network for Acid Prevention

26 May 2020

Earth Systems in collaboration with Okane Consultants, released a report providing new insight into ensuring low polluting mine operations, and more successful mine closure outcomes.

The report reviews conventional mine rock stockpile construction methods, and summarises improved construction technologies that are available to help improve water quality from mine wastes. Continued efforts to implement these technologies will help quantify their environmental and economic benefits.


Earth Systems Melbourne Office
4/290 Salmon Street                         Port Melbourne, VIC 3207                 Australia

Tel: +61 (0) 3 9810 7500
Fax: +61 (0) 3 9853 5030
[email protected]